Pnini the hero for Mac TA in dramatic win

Yellow-and-blue hold off Eilat for tight victory; Jerusalem overcomes Hapoel TA on the road.

Hapoel Jerusalem forward Josh Duncan 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Jerusalem forward Josh Duncan 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A gutsy Guy Pnini performance saved Maccabi Tel Aviv from a fourth BSL defeat of the season on Monday night, with the guard scoring 22 points to lead the yellow-and-blue to a nerve-wracking 83-79 win over Hapoel Eilat at Nokia Arena.
Pnini had scored just 25 points in total in Maccabi’s first seven BSL games, but he was called into action on Monday and answered with a superb shooting display, hitting 9-of-12 shots, including three three-pointers.
Maccabi entered the game on the back of two straight defeats, the derby loss to Hapoel Tel Aviv and the Euroleague setback against Laboral Vitoria. The pressure clearly took its toll, but Eilat ultimately couldn’t take advantage and the yellow-and-blue eked out a critical victory.
Also Monday, Hapoel Jerusalem recorded its fifth win in six BSL games, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 75-70 at Hadar Yosef Arena, while Hapoel Holon handed Maccabi Ashdod its sixth defeat in seven games, winning 78-59.
Scottie Reynolds had 21 points for Holon, which clinched the win thanks to a 14-0 run to start the fourth quarter (69-49). Xavier Silas scored 17 for Ashdod.
At Nokia, Eilat got off to a blinding start, with a Nitzan Hanochi three-pointer opening a 19-6 lead and forcing Maccabi coach David Blatt into an early timeout.
Terrence Roderick took Eilat’s margin to a record 15 points (21-6), but Maccabi would score the final seven points of the first period to limit the damage (23-15).
Tel Aviv maintained the momentum in the second quarter, with a Yogev Ohayon lay-up tying the score at 31-31.
The hosts were still trailing at the break (37-35), but they seemed to seize control with a 14-2 run in the third quarter capped by a Guy Pnini triple (55-46).
However, just when it seemed that the yellow-and-blue had finally found their range, Maccabi allowed Eilat back into the game and it was the southerners who had the edge with 10 minutes to play after Niv Berkowitz capped a 14-2 surge to end the frame (60-57).
It took Eilat more than two minutes to score its first points of the fourth quarter and six straight points by Pnini put Maccabi in the driving seat (65-60).
Another Pnini three with just over two minutes to play extended the gap to eight points (76-68), but Maccabi would make almost every mistake possible, failing to grab a defensive rebound time and again, and it wasn’t until Ohayon’s lay-up to beat the final buzzer that Tel Aviv secured the win.
Ohayon ended the night with 13 points, while Yancy Gates scored 21 for Eilat.
Earlier Monday, a 10-2 run put Jerusalem in control in the first period (19-11), with Ronald Dupree and Josh Duncan scoring nine points each in the first 10 minutes to give the visitors and nine-point advantage (26-17).
Jerusalem still held a significant margin (41-32) at halftime, but Tel Aviv never gave up the chase and Carlon Brown’s three-pointer with 2:35 to play cut the deficit to just three points (69- 66).
But the hosts would miss several chances to complete the comeback, the last of which when Raviv Limonad turned over the ball with his team trailing by three points with nine seconds to play.
Dupree ended the night with 22 points, with Duncan contributing 17 points and seven rebounds. Lior Eliyhau recorded a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Brown had 18 points for Tel Aviv, which fell to 3-4.